How do we arrive at a number?
Many factors go into building a budget for the City of Brandon, most not too dissimilar to budgeting in our own households. In households, we weigh decisions (at least in ours) on the following criteria:
– Is it important to us?
– Does it improve our quality of life?
– Most importantly, can we afford it?
City of Brandon administration has been at work for a number of weeks now preparing the budget for deliberation. At the same time, Council has been meeting with the various departments throughout the city to glean what we can accomplish in 2020, and what may need to be deferred to keep costs at a palpable level for residents. It is a bit of a balancing act, and a real lesson I learned in my first year on city council. As much as I would like an infinite funding source to get projects completed and improvements made, you have to often balance the needs of your residents with the realities of keeping life affordable for those same residents. With that said, I think we did a good job of that over this past year. We invested a record amount into improving mobility with numerous sidewalk repairs, we saw growth in our HUB model with Valleyview coming on stream early in 2019, we passed a master plan that will guide recreation in our community, there was paving on numerous streets throughout the ward, replacement of water and sewer infrastructure on McDonald Ave, investments in homelessness initiatives, the implementation of development charges (to better prepare for longterm growth), and the beginning of the first phase of the water treatment plant upgrade, an eventual multi-million dollar improvement. I’m proud of all those accomplishments. Some were challenged with timing concerns, weather issues, and other factors; something I hope we can improve upon in 2020, well all except the weather!
Where do we go from here?
In going into budget 2020, I plan to approach as I have with all my decisions over the last year. Does it make sense for our residents, does it improve quality of life, and is it affordable (without jeopardizing the previous two). It is a basic approach, but thus far has served me well in making complex decisions more digestible. Admittedly those complex decisions always have real-life implications for our residents, so they are never made lightly.
Some of my priorities, how do they match up for you?
- Moving forward on an election promise to improve safety at the intersection at McDiarmid Ave. & Victoria Ave.
- Keeping life affordable for residents
- Improved public safety including measures to combat property crime (with a focus on some of the systemic issues that cause it to happen)
- Further examining the operation of justice-based youth group homes in our community
- Working to address water drainage issues, particularly on McDonald Ave. and the north side of Rosser
- Improved roadways, paths, and connection points throughout the ward.
- Sidewalk repair and replacement in the University Ward
- Infrastructure investments throughout our city
- Improved community connections, recreation, hubs & programming availability, as well as looking at the potential for an outdoor multi-use sports facility in our community
- Examining some of the initiatives that assist the most vulnerable in our community
- A good commitment to reserve appropriations to save for future initiatives
What matters to you? What are your priorities?
Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing more about budget 2020, and some of the challenges faced by city council in doing best by our residents. More importantly, I will want your feedback. There are some public opportunities to weigh in on the proposed budget, and your priorities. I will keep you posted when those events will occur. If the forum style is not your cup of tea, I welcome the email at firstname.lastname@example.org or a call at (204) 724-0334. I also have various social media channels to have your voice heard. This is your budget, so having your feedback is incredibly important to how we do our jobs. Please take the opportunity to reach out.
There will undoubtedly be some changes, but I feel it will better our community, streamline some operations, and benefit the city longterm. This has been my commitment since being given the opportunity to serve the neighbourhood I call home and will be my commitment to you when deliberating budget 2020.
I believe in this community, and I believe in our potential. I look forward to making decisions that get us ever closer to accomplishing that potential.